Academic journal article Alberta History

Wakeful Nights. Stephan G. Stephansson: Icelandic-Canadian Poet

Academic journal article Alberta History

Wakeful Nights. Stephan G. Stephansson: Icelandic-Canadian Poet

Article excerpt

Wakeful Nights. Stephan G. Stephansson: Icelandic-Canadian Poet by Vidar Hreinsson,. Calgary: Benson Ranch Inc., 607 pp., illus., hardcover, $40.

In 2002 and 2003 the Icelandic literary scholar Vidar Hreinsson published his prize-winning two-volume biography of Icelandic-Canadian writer Stephan G. Stephansson (1853-1927). The important poet lived for the last half of his life on his farm near Markerville in central Alberta. A decade later Hreinsson has prepared a welcome one-volume English language edition of his Stephansson biography. The fact that the Stephansson House is a provincial historic site makes this impressive biography of special importance to Albertans. Each year from May 15 to Labour Day one can visit the attractive home of the Albertan writer now remembered as one of Iceland's greatest poets.

The author's account begins with Stephansson's early life spent on isolated farms in northern Iceland before his family's migration first to Icelandic settlements in Wisconsin and North Dakota. In 1889 they settled in Alberta. The book includes an incredibly rich collection of photographs and maps. The skillful researcher has extracted a wealth of information from Icelandic sources, in particular contemporary newspapers and letters. From the author's translations into English of Stephansson's poetry one learns a great deal about the self-educated farmer's original views of the world. …

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